Saturday, August 14, 2010

The meaning of "AND"

One pet peeve I have in writing is when people try to impose rules on the language that are not actually in the language, and (d1) pretend that they are.
Take, for instance, the meaning of "and".

Sometimes "AND" does mean simultaneity; sometimes it doesn't. And (d1) sometimes an editor or writer's group will hallucinate a pseudo-linguistic rule that has no basis in the language. Please note that those three cases do NOT necessarily happen at the same time. In this case they aren't related by anything but the point I'm trying to make.

Try and (d5) understand the point. (definition 5 means "in order to").

Neither Webster's nor the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) indicate that the word "AND" *always* means simultaneity. The primary meaning (d1) in Webster's Unabridged (1977 Encyclopedic version) is "also". The derivation in Webster's indicates that the original meaning was "thereupon, then, next". And (d1) there are several column inches of different definitions in the OED.

So I'm going to post this post and (d3) get to printing today's stories. That's two things I'm going to do, listed together, and you might think by definition 1 the word "and" indicates that they are linked or grouped in some way. Not necessarily by happening at the same time. Perhaps they are happening in a short sequence. Or perhaps they are related in theme. Or perhaps, as in this case, one is causing the other or enabling the other, which is definition 3. In which case, they could not possibly be simultaneous.

It's as easy as adding two and (d2) two.

1 comment:

Jack said...

Hi Dal, I wish you'd post more often. Your insights into writing (the "And") discussion, for example, are both informative and exciting.
Jack Remick